WFP rushes more food assistance into southern Lebanon with one in five Lebanese now homeless

Published on 28 July 2006

As the situation in Lebanon continues to deteriorate, with one in five Lebanese homeless and hostilities continuing, WFP is racing against time to reach the besieged population in southern Lebanon with food aid.

As the situation in Lebanon continues to deteriorate, with one in five Lebanese homeless and hostilities continuing, WFP is racing against time to reach the besieged population in southern Lebanon with food aid.

A greater catastrophe is in the making if we don’t assist people soon

Amer Daoudi, Emergency Coordinator for the WFP in Lebanon

Early this morning, WFP dispatched urgent relief convoys to two locations in southern Lebanon, and started a humanitarian cargo airlift from Italy to the region.

“There are women and children who face a daily threat not only of shelling and injury, but of having less and less food and water to sustain them. We have no time to waste in reaching them,” warned Amer Daoudi, Emergency Coordinator for the WFP operation in Lebanon.

Southern cities

Today’s convoys are heading to the cities of Sidon and Jezzine, all packed with stranded people. The 8-truck convoy for Jezzine is carrying 90 metric tons of WFP wheat flour, 15 tons of canned meat and critical supplies such blankets and shelter materials from Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF).

The 10-truck convoy for Sidon is carrying 18 tons of food including six truckloads from UNRWA for Palestinian refugees in camps. The convoys also include critical medical and shelter materials being delivered on behalf of UNDP, UNHCR, UNICEF and WHO.

More convoys are planned for the following days. WFP is working as quickly as possible to mobilise as many trucks as possible, as well as truck drivers willing to travel the dangerous roads. Fuel availability and rising prices are also growing concerns.

Deserted

Staff who travelled on Wednesday’s first UN humanitarian convoy to Tyre witnessed a stream of deserted villages, and small cities packed with displaced people who have no money to buy food and water. Those fleeing were caught in bumper-to-bumper traffic heading north. The city of Tyre was the site of heavy bombardment on Wednesday, with shells landing in the vicinity of the just-arrived UN convoy.

“A greater catastrophe is in the making if we don’t assist people soon,” stressed Daoudi.

Airlift

In addition to the convoys, WFP is starting today a humanitarian cargo airlift using a dedicated Ilyushin-76 aircraft.

The first delivery from the UN humanitarian depot in Brindisi includes 20 temporary warehouses and five generators for WFP. The aircraft will land in the Syrian town of Latakkia, from where supplies will be transported overland to Al-Arida, a Syrian border post that is WFP’s loading hub for all UN humanitarian supplies to be transported by road into Lebanon on UN-escorted convoys. Another flight is planned for tomorrow.

Cash contributions

WFP is the lead UN agency for the logistics of transporting humanitarian aid to and within Lebanon. WFP is appealing for US$48 million for logistics and food, with a particularly need for cash contributions.

The value of the special logistics operation alone is US$38 million. WFP plans to discharge up to 12,000 metric tons of food and non-food relief items per month and to provide a common UN trucking fleet to UN agencies, international and non-governmental organizations.

Against its appeal, the first contributions made to WFP are 90 MT of wheat flour from the Government of Lebanon and US$ 635,000 from Spain. Many governments have given strong indications of commitments to WFP’s operation including Australia, Belgium, Denmark, the European Commission, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States.

Shortage of goods and services

The conflict has left at least 800,000 people displaced amidst the wreckage of damaged infrastructure and a shortage of essential goods and services. WFP has already began distributing 25 metric tons of high-energy biscuits to 95,000 displaced people in and around Beirut.

WFP will give priority to distributing assistance to those most in need, including 95,000 displaced people seeking shelter in schools and public institutions in Beirut, 165,000 people in the heaviest-hit areas in southern Lebanon and 50,000 of the approximately 140,000 people in Syria who have fled the conflict.